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HIPAA News: Contacting COVID-19 Patients about Blood & Plasma Donation

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 6/18/20 10:41 AM

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On June 12, the OCR published the following guidance: OCR Issues Guidance on How Health Care Providers Can Contact Former COVID-19 Patients About Blood and Plasma Donation Opportunities.

blood plasma donation

This guidance explains when PHI can be used to identify and contact patients who had COVID-19 about donating blood and plasma to help treat other COVID-19 patients:

  • Covered entities (or their business associates) CAN, under HIPAA, use PHI to identify and contact patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to provide information about donating blood and plasma that could help other COVID-19 patients. The COVID-19 antibodies found in blood and plasma of recovered patients could help treat other COVID-19 patients.
  • This use of PHI is considered health care operations, because it involves “population-based activities related to improving health, and case management and care coordination activities that do not meet the definition of treatment….”
  • Covered entities should limit the use or disclosure of PHI to the minimum necessary.
  • Providers must be careful here – the way they reach out to patients must not constitute marketing. (With some exceptions, uses or disclosures of PHI for marketing require a signed HIPAA authorization).
    • Covered entities should NOT receive any direct or indirect payment from or on behalf of a blood and plasma donation center.
    • Covered entities should refrain from encouraging patients to use a particular blood and plasma center.
    • Covered entities cannot disclose PHI about recovered COVID-19 patients to a blood and plasma donation center for the purpose of soliciting blood and plasma donations – without a signed patient authorization.

MPA has updated its HIPAA & COVID-19 Tool Kit to address this guidance. The following documents have been updated:

  • HIPAA & COVID-19 Update
  • Permitted Uses and Disclosures Policy

Providers who previously purchased the HIPAA & COVID-19 Tool Kit have received these updated downloads by email. To purchase the HIPAA & COVID-19 Tool Kit, click here.

MCS Signature November 2018

Topics: HIPAA, COVID-19

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